Given the way Martin has been recording in the last few years it is hard to imagine that he had basically given up in the musical area and was instead concentrating totally on his artwork. Since the reissue and success of the original ‘The Gardening Club’ a few years ago, he has been working at pace and to date there have been two albums under that band name, and he has now signed with Melodic Revolution Records for the next one, ‘Strange Kingdom’. As a taster here we have the title cut, plus “The Owl”, as a two-track single. The first song features Martin Springett on vocals, Norm MacPherson on slide guitar and James MacPherson on drums with Morry Stearns (keyboards), Peter Dowse (bass) and Wayne Kozak (saxophone) while “The Owl” is Martin, Norm and Peter.I have been a fan of Martin’s work since I first came across it at the time of the reissue, and over the last few years we have been in constant contact, and of course he kindly provided the artwork for my series of books (and has already designed the cover for Volume 4 even though I haven’t even finished collating the material yet!). That to one side, our friendship is also in a place where I can say exactly what I want about his music and know he will not be upset by it if it is negative, although given the strength of everything I have heard to date I feel that will be incredibly unlikely. Martin has a knack for bringing together Camel and Roy Harper in a way that makes total logical sense, and although he moves through different styles (these two songs are very different with sax playing a very important part in the first and being totally absent in the second), his material has a lived in style which is relaxing like a favourite armchair. In Norm MacPherson he has the perfect musical foil, someone who understands what they are looking to achieve, and together they create music which is rooted in the Seventies when it had a power and presence, far removed from the plastic celebrity of today. I am so looking forward to the full album.
5 Stars | Kev Rowland, September 2020